The Buffalo Sabres have been in the NHL since 1970 and I still find it interesting that they have not much late round draft success. There has been some and that is what this feature is all about. As the NHL entry draft draws nearer so will the level of talent that I am featuring in this segment. Today we will highlight the player that I have chosen as the number 17 ranked steal in Sabres draft history.
Brian Holzinger- 1991 (6th round, #124 overall)
It seems that counting Brian Holzinger as draft steal is a bit of a stretch because he never quite lived up to his expectations. When Holzinger was drafted he was playing in the NAHL but he eventually went on to play NCAA hockey at Bowling Green where he won the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top Men's NCAA Hockey Player. He came to Buffalo with huge expectations that he never really lived up to, still he played over 500 NHL games as a 6th round pick.
Holzinger was 23 years old when he first broke into the Sabres lineup in 1995-1996, playing in 58 games and scoring 10 goals and 10 assists. His first full season in the NHL was 1996-1997 and it was also his best statistical season in the NHL. In that season he scored 22 goals and had 29 assists for 51 points, those were really good totals for the defensive style of hockey that was played during that time period.
Holzinger played five years in Buffalo before being traded on March, 9 2000, he was traded with Wayne Primeau and a third round draft pick for Chris Gratton and a second round draft pick. Holzinger was even more of a disappointment after leaving Buffalo, the Tampa Bay Lightning actually sent him to the minors for a short time before trading him to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He eventually finished his career playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
I was a big Brian Holzinger fan when he first came to Buffalo, I am even the owner of a Brian Holzinger jersey (you know the one with the angry goat on the front). After the 1999 Stanley Cup when he skated right by Brett Hull, without even breathing heavily on him, I completely changed my mind. I was glad to see him traded and it really worked out for Buffalo. The second round pick Buffalo received, turned into Derek Roy and Chris Gratton was traded for Daniel Briere, I would say that trade worked out pretty well for Buffalo.